O'Sullivan misses opening of camp
"A little honesty ... We're not very close. That's the truth. What I'm most concerned about is, Sully has made great strides but he has to continue to make strides if he's going to put up big numbers on a good team. There's a big difference between being a 50- or 60-point scorer on a team that's out of the playoffs in January, and doing it on a good team."
Given that he's coming off a 53-point sophomore season, I can see why there's a gap there as the two sides contemplate a long-term deal. It's really not so clear how much, exactly, players of O'Sullivan's ilk are worth these days, not when Rostislav Olesz gets a six-year, $18.75-million contract despite not putting up anything close in terms of production to what O'Sullivan has.
Good comparables when it comes to players from O'Sullivan's draft year (2003) include players like Andrei Kostitsyn and Robert Nilsson, who haven't played a ton of games but have been reasonably productive in the ones they have. Kostitsyn recently signed a three-year deal for $3.25-million a season, but my guess is the Kings are after more term and O'Sullivan more dollars than that at this point.
My bet is Jeff Carter ($5-million a season) is the type of comparable he and his agent are looking at, even if O'Sullivan is 100 games shy of the Flyers youngster. A 50-point season buys a big contract these days, especially if unrestricted free agency years come into the equation (which is anything beyond 2011-12 for O'Sullivan).
What's puzzling, however, is that the Kings were quick to lock up Jarret Stoll, who is coming off a horrible season, for $3.6-million a year. Yes, he's three years older than O'Sullivan, but looking forward, it's no contest which player will be making a bigger impact on the Kings' roster. If negotiations on a long-term deal are stalled, why not sign a shorter pact in that price range and let the younger player prove his worth?
Here's Lombardi again, in a good interview over at Rich Hammond's blog: "When I saw where his (contract) number was two months ago, I said, 'Oh boy.' "
Not exactly promising. And it's not as if the Kings risk falling out of the playoff race if O'Sullivan sits — given it's a full-on rebuild, it may even help get other kids more ice time.